Ilford Jewish Life Not Just Chabad
I was pleased to read Rabbi Aryeh Sufrin’s article on the vibrancy of Jewish life in Ilford (Jewish News, 9 July).
He focused on the excellent work of Chabad in north-east London and Essex, mentioning in passing other communities in the area. I would like to inform readers of one of these communities which has been particularly successful, Ilford Federation Synagogue, which made a very important move in its history by relocating from the heart of Ilford to Gants Hill.
Since that move, under the devoted and inspiring leadership of Rabbi Chapper, attendances have increased dramatically, so that we too have almost-full notices on Shabbat mornings, thriving weekday minyans and flourishing Friday and Saturday night services. We also have regular learning experiences which attract more than 30 people and many other fully-subscribed groups.
I agree with Rabbi Sufrin that the death of Jewish life in Ilford has been exaggerated, but wouldn’t want anybody to feel the Jewish experience is limited to Chabad activities.
Warden, Ilford Federation Synagogue
Refugee Crisis and the Israeli Lifeline
I refer to opinion columns in your 18 June issue by Dr Edie Friedman, founder of the Jewish Council for Racial Equality, and Reut Michaeli, of the Hotline for Refugees and Migrants, talking from different standpoints of the refugee crisis in the world, the worst, as Dr Friedman points out, since the Second World War.
I would like to remind readers of a parallel. On 12 December 1941, a cattle boat, the Struma, with 769 Jewish men, women, and children on board tried to leave Axis-controlled Romania. Passengers had been forced to pay exorbitant prices for their passage and the ship was a hellhole with only one toilet. They had been fooled by the people they paid into thinking they would be able to reach Palestine. As they neared the Turkish coast, the British government declared they would not be granted entry into Palestine as this would be breaking the limit of Jews allowed, and the Turkish authorities would not allow them into Turkey. The ship anchored off the Turkish coast for nearly two months under horrible conditions. On 23 February 1942, the Turks said they could no longer remain and set the boat adrift without fresh water, food or fuel. About two hours later, the Struma blew up. Only one passenger survived.
My point is that because there is now a homeland for Jewish people, this could never happen again. Whatever qualms one might have with Israeli government policy, Jews of all political stances should be thankful Israel exists. The horrific events taking place now with refugees underline this.
Without a Kippah, a Jew is not dressed
“A proud Jew without a kippah” (Letters, Jewish News, 2 July) is an oxymoron. A man wears a head covering to symbolise humility, to show he believes and feels tangibly at every moment that God is above him. A Jew who wears a kippah (even more so in a non-Jewish environment) indicates he is willing to practise Judaism on our infinite God’s terms, not necessarily aligned with one’s own comfort level, nature or lifestyle. A man walking bare-headed displays arrogance, not pride.
The only way to demonstrate that one is a proud Jew is to learn and practise as much Judaism as possible.
Our responsibility is to rally round
The government cannot ban static rallies – free speech is open to all. The Metropolitan Police can, however, put conditions on rallies that could cause public disorder, as was the case of last month’s proposed rally in Golders Green, but to do this, they must possess all the facts.
It is very important for the Jewish community at large to get involved, by writing and contacting their MPs, writing to government departments making their objections known, In other words, they have to make as much written and polite verbal noise as possible whenever they get an inkling that such rallies are proposed in the future.
The great egg debate boils on…
The headline on Renee Gilbert’s letter, ‘No such things as kosher eggs’ (9 July), was slightly misleading. The point she was making was that in the absence of a cockerel it is highly unlikely that any hens’ eggs would be fertilised, and so any coloured spots would almost certainly not be evidence of the presence of blood, rendering them non-kosher. As she points out, this is true whatever the colour of the shells, which depends on the breed of hen laying the eggs.
However, intrinsically non-kosher eggs exist – those laid by non-kosher birds such as ostriches, although almost certainly not available in the general market, which always labels eggs from species other than hens, like (kosher) ducks or quails, as what they are.
Mrs H Levy